Videos and articles designed to help you diagnose and maintain your vehicle.
Archive for March 2011
Keeping Your Apple Valley Air Fresh When Driving With A Clean Cabin Air Filter
Date: March 31, 2011 12:17 PM - Category: Cabin Air Filter
What is a cabin air filter? Is it:
A. A filter for your Apple Valley house? B. A fresh, piney scent? C. A filter for the passenger compartment of your car?
Clever you, it’s C.
A cabin air filter cleans the outside air before it comes into the passenger compartment. It filters out common Apple Valley air particles like dust, pollen, spores, bacteria, pollutants, exhaust gas, odors and even sparrows.
These high tech filters can block particles larger than 3 microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.
Not all vehicles in Apple Valley have cabin air filters. They are fairly new on the scene. About forty percent of new vehicles sold in Apple Valley come with cabin air filters, but the number is growing every year.
Cabin air filters can make for a very nice driving environment. Your car can be a haven during our Apple Valley allergy season with very little dust and pollen getting into the cabin. However, the filter eventually gets clogged. When this happens, your heating and air conditioning flow can become restricted. The filter can even get kind of smelly.
Check your owner’s manual for recommended replacement intervals. Often, the owner’s manual forgets about the cabin air filter, so ask your service technician at Valley Auto Care for a recommendation. It’s usually every year or 12,000 miles / 19,000 kilometers. Change it sooner if you drive in dusty conditions around the Apple Valley area, or if you start to notice an odor from your ventilation system.
So keep your cabin air filter clean. It may not help with your brother-in-law in the backseat, but it will make your driving experience around Apple Valley more enjoyable.
Come by Valley Auto Care and we'll take a look at your cabin air filter for you.
Date: March 24, 2011 9:44 AM - Category: Parts
Like everything automotive, there have been great strides in headlight technology in recent years. We can all drive more safely at night because of it. Good headlights improve visibility down the road, enabling you to see farther. They also improve your peripheral vision, helping you to see the sides more clearly. The more you can see, the quicker you can react to road conditions. This is important because nearly half of traffic fatalities take place at night. And as the country's population ages, everything that helps older eyes is welcome.
Most new cars come with halogen headlamps. A decade ago, halogens were exotic and expensive. Now that they are standard equipment, the price has come way down. Many luxury cars are equipped with high intensity discharge, or HID, headlamps. You have probably seen them on the road, they're very bright and have a bluish tint.
From behind the wheel, there is no doubt that HID headlamps are the best thing going. However, many people complain about HID lights in on coming traffic or when they approach from behind. In fact, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called for public comment, they received a record number of complaints about HIDs. This has lead to several studies - your tax dollars at work. Some expect future regulation of HID lamps.
All halogen headlamps dim over time. Experts recommend that they be changed out once a year. AutoNetTV suggests you replace your headlamps in the fall at the end of Daylight Savings Time. It's easy to remember - when you change your clock, change your headlamps. Remember to replace all headlamps at the same time - then all your lights will be equally bright. You will appreciate it during those long winter nights.
If you have an older car with old style headlamps - they make halogen replacement lamps for most cars. You'll be amazed at the difference this upgrade will make.
In addition to regular halogen lamps, you can upgrade to premium lamps that filter some of the yellow light, making a bright white light that's more like natural sunlight. This light's easier on the eyes and should improve reaction time.
Now, you may be able to step up to HID headlamps, depending on the kind of car you drive. These lamps should last the life of your car, but cost several hundred dollars a pair. If you want other drivers to think you're running HID lamps, you can even buy regular halogens that have a bluish tint. Does she or doesn't she? Only her Minnesota automotive service technician knows for sure.
Over time, plastic headlight covers can get cloudy or yellowed. In fact, AAA reports that nine out of ten headlights are dirty or yellowed, greatly reducing vision. In addition to helping you replace your headlamps, many service centers such as Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley, Minnesota can restore your headlight covers. Headlights can be restored at a fraction of the cost of replacing.
I Can See Clearly Now: Wiper Blade Replacement In Apple Valley
Date: March 17, 2011 9:51 AM - Category: Maintenance
About 90% of our Apple Valley Minnesota driving decisions are based solely on what we see. So having a good pair of windshield wipers is extremely important.
Everyone in Apple Valley Minnesota has experienced the frustration and fear of not being able to see clearly during a storm, or when our windshield is just dirty. In fact, it’s estimated that 46,000,000 motorists from Apple Valley and across the nation are driving with wipers that can’t adequately clear their windshield in a storm.
It seems like your wiper blades are always at their worst when you need them the most. If that sounds like you, you’ve got plenty of company in the Apple Valley area. 78% of drivers only change their wiper blades after the blades function so poorly that they become a safety hazard.
We need to change our thinking. Instead of blades being something to replace when they fail, we need to consider wiper blades as an important safety component. Then we’ll stay ahead of the storm.
You really ought to replace your wiper blades twice a year; in the spring and the fall. If you live in the colder parts of Minnesota, you may even want to get special winter blades in the fall.
Winter blades are designed to resist freezing. Speaking of winter and freezing conditions, if your car has been sitting for a long time and the windshield becomes frozen, don’t use your wipers to clear off snow and ice. That can just shred your blades and may even damage the wiper motor.
Your wiper blades live outside; freezing cold and blistering sun. Over time, they become hard and brittle, and then tear. They also lose their flexibility and just don’t clear the windshield effectively. Worn wiper blades aren’t just a safety hazard; they can also scratch your windshield. That may require replacing the entire windshield – a big cost for such a little part.
AutoNetTV recommends you replace worn blades right away. Your local service center can provide you with a quality replacement blade. They cost about the same as they would at the store – but installation is included at the service center.
Of course you also need washer fluid to help your blades do their work. Even though Valley Auto Care will top off the washer fluid with a full service oil change, it is a good idea to have some extra fluid at home. It’s a good idea to keep a bottle in the car if you’re on a road trip.
Always use windshield washer fluid. Plain water, even that fancy French bottled water, just doesn’t cut it. It can freeze in the fluid reservoir or on the windshield itself, making things worse. Besides, water won’t do as good job of cleaning your windows.
Valley Auto Care 7125 151st St. West, Suite 105 Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124 952-431-2700
Fuel Saving Tip: Car Weight And Your Minnesota Driving
Date: March 11, 2011 11:48 AM - Category: Fuel System
Weight is the enemy of fuel economy. Everyone from here to Rosemount knows this makes sense.
Some of us in the Rosemount area carry a bunch of unnecessary weight, and I'm not talkin' what you see in the mirror.
Guys; sports equipment and tools. Ladies; well, just take a look around the passenger compartment and trunk. I think my car has about forty-five pounds of French fries on the floor.
All that extra weight wastes gas as you drive between here and Rosemount, and everywhere else.
Lose the junk and save some money.
...And you really only need one of those spare tires.
Alternative Fuel Vehicles In Apple Valley Minnesota
Date: March 3, 2011 12:06 PM - Category: Fuel System
Let's talk about alternative fuel vehicles. In their quest to reduce the use of fossil fuels and harmful exhaust emissions to our Apple Valley environment, automakers will have a number of alternatives for us very soon.
For instance, Flex Fuel vehicles are already available in the Apple Valley area. Flex Fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on E85 fuel. E85 is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The ethanol is made from corn.
The benefits are in using less petroleum and reduced pollution. The drawbacks are that E85 gets lower fuel economy and that when gas prices are low, E85 can be more expensive than straight gasoline.
You should only use E85 if you have a Flex Fuel compatible engine. Flex Fuel vehicles have special seals and gaskets that can stand up to the high alcohol content of E85. Using E85 in a regular engine can lead to gas leaks and fires.
Diesel engines have been around the Apple Valley area for a long, long time. Modern diesels are very refined and fuel efficient. Diesel fuel can be made from renewable sources like vegetable oil, too. Diesel fuel from algae and sunlight is reported to be pretty close to being commercially viable.
There are also a number of natural gas vehicles on our Apple Valley roads. Gasoline engines are adapted to run on compressed natural gas. It's less expensive than gasoline and burns very cleanly. You can even refill it with a special pump from your gas line at home.
Natural gas engines don't make as much power and don't get as good of mileage, but they cost less per mile to run. The big inconvenience is that the tank that holds the compressed natural gas takes up a lot of room; even your whole trunk! And there may not be places to refuel on a road trip from Apple Valley.
Plug-in electric vehicles are now available in our Apple Valley area. Battery technology is the limiting factor right now. Electric cars have a limited range and are really best for use close to home. As battery technology advances, electric cars will perform closer and closer to conventional power plants.
That brings us to hybrids. There are a bunch of hybrids on our Apple Valley roads, with more to come. Hybrid technology combines internal combustion engines with electric motors.
A mild hybrid has a regular gas or diesel engine that's assisted by the electric motor. The electric motor can propel the vehicle by itself up to a certain speed under gentle acceleration. There are mild hybrids in full-sized pickups and SUVs. They deliver city fuel economy similar to their highway ratings.
A full hybrid will rely primarily on the electric motor for power. It'll have a small gas or diesel engine that generates electricity for the batteries.
Another breakthrough technology is hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen to generate electricity. Several global car makers have prototypes on the road. The appeal is that the only thing that comes out of the tail pipe is water vapor. It'll take some time to build a national infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations before there's widespread use.
A quick word about safety around hybrid and electric vehicles. Unlike the battery in your current family car, these carry enough voltage to kill you. Never mess around under the hood or with the batteries or electrical wiring. Your Apple Valley service technician at Valley Auto Care is trained to safely disable the flow of electricity before performing maintenance or repairs on the vehicle.
Hybrids are really not do-it-yourself vehicles unless you're specifically trained on hybrid systems.
Valley Auto Care in Apple Valley MN helps people and their vehicles throughout Apple Valley and along Cedar Ave, County Rd. 42, Galaxy Ave, and 160th St. We work on all vehicles including the following manufacturers: Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Ford, Mazda, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn, GMC, Cadillac, Mercury, Lincoln, Infiniti, Acura, Lexus, Buick, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, and Plymouth with most auto service needs including: Tires, Wheels, Brakes, Transmission, Tune-Up, Computer Diagnostics, Engine Codes, Suspension, Shocks, Struts, Alignment, AC, Clutch & more.